Many lists and player rankings are being unveiled early this year, which means the debate over those lists and player rankings have begun early too. Much of the scrutiny comes with the star system, where the 5-star status is the most sought-after honor in the recruiting industry.
Recruits work hard until NSD to get all five stars. Various sites pay keen attention to prospects throughout the year, choosing to downgrade and upgrade their star status depending on a recruit's performance.
If a recruit is rated as a 4-star right now, it's certainly not the end of the world. Each year we see a ton of fluidity with the board and we've seen 3-star prospects end up with five stars at the end and vice versa.
This 2014 class is a talented group and has a lot of depth. For this read, let's look at several 4-star recruits who could end up getting that fifth star by the time next February comes along.
The big 'backer barely missed getting a fifth star on the initial Rivals 250 board. He's 6'3", 236 pounds and has the size, range, strength and potential of a 5-star LB.
The Georgia native just has to show a little more athleticism in space and cover skills at a few camps or combines, and by the summer he could be a full 5-star recruit. McMillan isn't far off from 5-star status at all.
Harris, right now, is probably a top-level 4-star recruit, but I think he has a chance to gradually ascend to 5-star status over time.
I like his 6'4", 180-pound frame and we all know how productive he was last year. Harris went off for over 90 catches, over 2,000 yards and has 35 career TDs already.
He's an athletic WR who also is a solid hoops player. He's chosen to focus on football and that should grow his game into one of a 5-star WR prospect.
Luatua is No. 49 on the Rivals 250 but probably deserves to be higher. I think the 6'4", 230-pounder is the nation's best TE prospect for 2014 and has 5-star talent.
I've seen him use his hands to pluck passes in traffic, run by LBs and safeties in coverage and help maul as a blocker in running game.
As time moves on with this 2014 class, look for Luatua to climb many boards and finish as a 5-star TE.
Smith is a physical specimen and looks the part at 6'6", 282 pounds. He has a chiseled body and it's obvious he takes care of himself well and is in great condition.
He's not just a good-looking player on the hoof, as Smith gets it done in the trenches. He comes off the ball hard at the snap, plays tough and strong and can move targets off their marks.
He fights as a pass protector, can hold up as a short-setter and looks to finish. He should finish this year as a 5-star OL prospect.
Hurd is the 15th-best prospect on the Rivals 250, just barely missing being a 5-star recruit.
I'm a bit baffled as to how he's not considered a 5-star guy already since the Tennessee native is a 6'3", 210-pound RB who ran for over 3,000 yards and 40 scores as a junior.
Well, I'm sure all this has done is put a bigger chip on Hurd's shoulder and that doesn't bode well for defenses who'll oppose him this fall. Hurd has the size, instincts, strength and speed of a 5-star back and should be one soon.
Lane is the top WR on my board and is the No. 29 recruit on the Rivals 250 for 2014.
He's 6'3", close to 200 pounds and has solid deep speed, ball skills and hands.
I think Lane is an upper-echelon 4-star recruit, but I have a feeling that he will get the 5-star treatment before this 2014 cycle is over. Keep an eye on how he moves up various boards and ascends to a 5-star recruit.
I think what's keeping Scarborough from getting that last star is the question of what position he'll play in college. He seems to play RB in the fall, but works as a WR in the offseason.
The 6'2", 222-pounder has great straight-line speed, runs hard and is plenty strong. If he shows up to a few camps and combines to display that he's a true RB, then he could get his fifth star pretty quickly.
Grier is a 4-star recruit right now and I expect him to stay a 4-star recruit all spring and summer. However, when the fall season starts, things could change.
Grier is expected to re-write the record books as a senior in North Carolina. He already threw for 837 yards and 10 TDs in one game as a junior and finished the year with over 5,700 yards and 69 TDs.
That kind of production combined with the 6'3", 180-pounder's arm talent and athleticism could warrant him to be considered a 5-star QB at the end of this season and before NSD 2014.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.